Electrically pumped continuous-wave III–V quantum dot lasers on silicon

Journal name:
Nature Photonics
Year published:
Published online

Reliable, efficient electrically pumped silicon-based lasers would enable full integration of photonic and electronic circuits, but have previously only been realized by wafer bonding. Here, we demonstrate continuous-wave InAs/GaAs quantum dot lasers directly grown on silicon substrates with a low threshold current density of 62.5 A cm–2, a room-temperature output power exceeding 105 mW and operation up to 120 °C. Over 3,100 h of continuous-wave operating data have been collected, giving an extrapolated mean time to failure of over 100,158 h. The realization of high-performance quantum dot lasers on silicon is due to the achievement of a low density of threading dislocations on the order of 105 cm−2 in the III–V epilayers by combining a nucleation layer and dislocation filter layers with in situ thermal annealing. These results are a major advance towards reliable and cost-effective silicon-based photonic–electronic integration.

At a glance


  1. Development and advantages of QD lasers.
    Figure 1: Development and advantages of QD lasers.

    a, The historical development of low-dimensional heterostructure lasers, showing the record threshold current densities. The red star indicates the threshold value achieved in this work. The blue star is the value normalized to a single QD layer. b, Schematic of the interaction between QDs and threading dislocations. c, Bright-field scanning TEM images showing the potential interactions between threading dislocations and QDs.

  2. Epitaxial growth and structural characterization of QD lasers.
    Figure 2: Epitaxial growth and structural characterization of QD lasers.

    a, High-angle annular dark-field scanning TEM image of the interface between the 6 nm AlAs nucleation layer and a silicon substrate. b, Bright-field scanning TEM image of DFLs. c, Dislocation density measured at different positions, as indicated in b. d, Photoluminescence spectrum for a QD active region grown on silicon. Inset: representative AFM image of an uncapped QD sample grown on silicon. e, High-resolution bright-field scanning TEM images of a single dot (top left), corrected high-angle annular dark-field scanning TEM images (false colour) of a single QD (bottom left) and bright-field scanning TEM image of the QD active layers (right).

  3. Fabricated III–V laser directly grown on a silicon substrate.
    Figure 3: Fabricated III–V laser directly grown on a silicon substrate.

    a, Schematic of the layer structure of an InAs/GaAs QD laser on a silicon substrate. b, A cross-sectional SEM image of the fabricated laser with as-cleaved facets, showing very good facet quality. c, SEM overview of the complete III–V laser on silicon.

  4. Silicon laser performance characterization.
    Figure 4: Silicon laser performance characterization.

    a, LIV characteristics for a 50 µm × 3,200 µm InAs/GaAs QD laser grown on a silicon substrate under c.w. operation at 18 °C. b, Emission spectra for a 50 µm × 3,200 µm InAs/GaAs QD laser grown on a silicon substrate at various injection current densities under c.w. operation at 18 °C. c, Light output power versus current density for this InAs/GaAs QD laser on silicon at various heatsink temperatures. d, Ageing data for the InAs/GaAs QD laser on silicon at a constant heatsink temperature of 26 °C and c.w. drive current of 210 mA.


  1. Asghari, M. & Krishnamoorthy, A. V. Silicon photonics: energy-efficient communication. Nature Photon. 5, 268270 (2011).
  2. Rickman, A. The commercialization of silicon photonics. Nature Photon. 8, 579582 (2014).
  3. Virot, L. et al. Germanium avalanche receiver for low power interconnects. Nature Commun. 5, 4957 (2014).
  4. Reed, G. T., Mashanovich, G., Gardes, F. & Thomson, D. Silicon optical modulators. Nature Photon. 4, 518526 (2010).
  5. Camacho-Aguilera, R. E. et al. An electrically pumped germanium laser. Opt. Express 20, 1131611320 (2012).
  6. Tanabe, K., Watanabe, K. & Arakawa, Y. III–V/Si hybrid photonic devices by direct fusion bonding. Sci. Rep. 2, 349 (2012).
  7. Mi, Z., Yang, J., Bhattacharya, P. & Huffaker, D. Self-organised quantum dots as dislocation filters: the case of GaAs-based lasers on silicon. Electron. Lett. 42, 121123 (2006).
  8. Wang, T., Liu, H., Lee, A., Pozzi, F. & Seeds, A. 1.3-µm InAs/GaAs quantum-dot lasers monolithically grown on Si substrates. Opt. Express 19, 1138111386 (2011).
  9. Lee, A., Jiang, Q., Tang, M., Seeds, A. & Liu, H. Continuous-wave InAs/GaAs quantum-dot laser diodes monolithically grown on Si substrate with low threshold current densities. Opt. Express. 20, 2218122187 (2012).
  10. Liu, A. et al. High performance continuous wave 1.3 µm quantum dot lasers on silicon. Appl. Phys. Lett. 104, 041104 (2014).
  11. Wang, Z. et al. Room-temperature, InP distributed feedback laser array directly grown on silicon. Nature Photon. 9, 837842 (2015).
  12. Zhou, Z. et al. On-chip light sources for silicon photonics. Light Sci. Appl. 4, e358 (2015).
  13. Deppe, D., Shavritranuruk, K., Ozgur, G., Chen, H. & Freisem, S. Quantum dot laser diode with low threshold and low internal loss. Electron. Lett. 45, 5456 (2009).
  14. Arakawa, Y. et al. Multidimensional quantum well laser and temperature dependence of its threshold current. Appl. Phys. Lett. 40, 939941 (1982).
  15. Crowley, M. T., Naderi, N. A., Su, H., Grillot, F. & Lester, L. F. GaAs-based quantum dot lasers. Semiconductors Semimetals 86, 371417 (2012).
  16. Bimberg, D. et al. Quantum Dot Heterostructures (Wiley, 1999).
  17. Liu, G. T. et al. Extremely low room-temperature threshold current density diode lasers using InAs dots in In0.15Ga0.85As quantum well. Electron. Lett. 35, 11631165 (1999).
  18. Sugawara, M. & Usami, M. Quantum dot devices: handling the heat. Nature Photon. 3, 3031 (2009).
  19. Lee, A. D. et al. InAs/GaAs quantum-dot lasers monolithically grown on Si, Ge, and Ge-on-Si substrates. IEEE J. Sel. Top. Quantum Electron. 19, 1901107 (2013).
  20. Mi, Z. et al. High-performance quantum dot lasers and integrated optoelectronics on Si. Proc. IEEE 97, 12391248 (2009).
  21. Chichibu, S. F. et al. Origin of defect-insensitive emission probability in In-containing (Al, In, Ga) N alloy semiconductors. Nature Mater. 5, 810816 (2006).
  22. Beanland, R. et al. Structural analysis of life tested 1.3 µm quantum dot lasers. J. Appl. Phys. 103, 014913 (2008).
  23. Liu, A. et al. Reliability of InAs/GaAs quantum dot lasers epitaxially grown on silicon. IEEE J. Sel. Top. Quantum Electron. 21, 1900708 (2015).
  24. Tang, M. et al. 1.3-µm InAs/GaAs quantum-dot lasers monolithically grown on Si substrates using InAlAs/GaAs dislocation filter layers. Opt. Express 22, 1152811535 (2014).
  25. Chen, S. et al. 1.3 µm InAs/GaAs quantum-dot laser monolithically grown on Si substrates operating over 100 °C. Electron. Lett. 50, 14671468 (2014).
  26. Liu, H. et al. Long-wavelength InAs/GaAs quantum-dot laser diode monolithically grown on Ge substrate. Nature Photon. 5, 416419 (2011).
  27. Tischler, M. A. et al. Defect reduction in GaAs epitaxial layer using a GaAsP–InGaAs strained-layer superlattice. Appl. Phys. Lett. 46, 294296 (1985).
  28. Fischer, R. et al. Dislocation reduction in epitaxial GaAs on Si(100). Appl. Phys. Lett. 48, 12231225 (1986).
  29. Akiyama, M. et al. Growth of single domain GaAs layer on (100)-oriented Si substrate by MOCVD. Jpn J. Appl. Phys. 23, L843 (1984).
  30. Sellers, I. et al. 1.3 µm InAs/GaAs multilayer quantum-dot laser with extremely low room-temperature threshold current density. Electron. Lett. 40, 14121413 (2004).

Download references

Author information


  1. Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering, University College London, London WC1E 7JE, UK

    • Siming Chen,
    • Jiang Wu,
    • Qi Jiang,
    • Mingchu Tang,
    • Alwyn J. Seeds &
    • Huiyun Liu
  2. Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering, University of Sheffield, Sheffield S1 3JD, UK

    • Wei Li &
    • Ian Ross
  3. Department of Physics and Astronomy, Cardiff University, Queens Building, The Parade, Cardiff CF24 3AA, UK

    • Samuel Shutts,
    • Stella N. Elliott,
    • Angela Sobiesierski &
    • Peter M. Smowton


H.L. proposed and guided the overall project with contributions from A.J.S. and P.M.S. S.C., J.W., A.J.S., P.M.S. and H.L. developed the laser structure. J.W., M.T. and H.L. performed material growth. S.C. and Q.J. carried out the device fabrication and device characterization. S.S., S.N.E. and P.M.S. performed laser near-field measurements and analysis. A.S. and S.S. contributed to the development of device processing. W.L. and I.R. performed TEM characterization and analysis. M.T. and J.W. carried out AFM characterization. S.C., J.W., A.J.S. and H.L. composed the manuscript with input from all co-authors.

Competing financial interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to:

Author details

Supplementary information

PDF files

  1. Supplementary information (0.98 MB)

    Supplementary information

Additional data